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Federal Judge Richard Posner Says It’s Time To Legalize Cannabis


richard posner marijuanaThere are many voices in America that are calling for an end to cannabis prohibition. Poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans want to legalize cannabis. Colorado and Washington have already legalized cannabis, and there’s a good chance that Alaska and Oregon could be joining them by the end of the year. But what we really need is reform at the federal level.

At least one federal judge agrees. Richard A. Posner is a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. Anyone that has gone through law school recently is certainly familiar with Mr. Posner as he is one of the most influential legal minds in the country. He recently stated the following in an article he wrote for New Republic:

 The sale and possession of marijuana are en route to being decriminalized; and I am inclined to think that cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, and the rest of the illegal drugs should be decriminalized as well—though not deregulated. They should be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration for safety, like other drugs, and they should be taxed heavily, like alcohol and cigarettes. Alcohol and cigarettes are “recreational” drugs, too—and quite possibly more destructive of the users than the illegal drugs are, and, in the case of alcohol, also of acquaintances, family members, drivers, and pedestrians. The revenue from a sales tax on marijuana alone would pay for a substantial chunk of the cost of our prison system.

This is a very significant endorsement for cannabis legalization. Justice Posner has been tasked with carrying out federal law. So when he speaks up and says that it’s time for federal cannabis laws to be changed, the federal government should listen. I’m hopeful that other federal judges will join Justice Posner, and that all states in America take a new approach.

Source: International Cannabis Business Conference


About Author

Anthony Johnson is the director of New Approach Oregon, the PAC responsible for Measure 91, that ended cannabis prohibition for all Oregon adults in 2014. In addition to helping organize the International Cannabis Business Conference & the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, he also serves as a Board Member of the National Cannabis Coalition, working to legalize cannabis across the country and Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, an organization specifically working to end cannabis prohibition in Missouri. As President of the University of Missouri Law School ACLU Chapter, Anthony co-authored the measures that legalized medical cannabis possession and decriminalized personal possession for all adults within the city limits of Columbia, Missouri, in 2004. Following law school, Anthony practiced criminal defense for two years before working full time in the political field to help improve and protect civil liberties. You can follow Anthony on Twitter and also friend him on Facebook by following the links below as he posts mostly about civil liberties and politics with dashes of sports, music, movies and whatnot.


  1. Actually, you and Malcolm both bat for the same team. I think there was a little too much reading between the lines, happening here.

    Malcolm supports ending the drug war in such a way that we’re not simply trading the label of “criminal” for “addict” — the grand dream of the “rehabitionist” crowd. Instead of being forced to go to jail, anyone busted (for cannabis) would be forced into an expensive treatment program they must pay for out of pocket. Should they fail to go to treatment, *then* they go to jail. Rehab clinics are a billion dollar industry.

    The fear of such an outcome can make people forget that there *is* such a thing as a physiological dependence on a substance — when it literally causes pain and suffering when that substance is taken away. Heroin, I’m told, can cause physiological dependence. People like that need help — and yes, it certainly is a health issue, not a criminal one.

    At the end of the day, I think both of you share an idea of what should come when the drug war is over. I think both of you share a lot of the same values. No need to argue over a simple lack of communication.

  2. People want change and consumer spending drives 70% of the economy. Most all Pot people know what 420 is. This day would be good for other issues as well. I think that if on 420 day that if the enlightened folk were to not buy any gasoline just on that day that it would send a large wave thundering over the heads of the power people.

  3. I think that the republicans are really being pushed up against a rock on this issue. They are watching the polls and know the people are for it and their re election may (In Some Cases) hinge on this but they know their Tea Party bosses are against Pot. Time for some rebellion in the ranks like Paul Rand. I’m a Democrat and get a kick out of seeing the republicans squirm on this issue.

  4. NattyRem420 on

    Ah yes because your way of locking everybody up that has a HEALTH issue ( dependency ) is working so well. First you need to understand that Alcohol and hard drug addiction is a health issue not one of criminality. If its not working properly lets just throw it in the closet and get a new one right Malcolm? Out of site out of mind, problem solved right? You are the problem sir.

  5. malcolmkyle on

    Treat the boozers in a clinical hospital with a bottle of vodka and a glass. See how stupid that was?

  6. Me to I want to shake this mans hand. I hope the GOP takes a look at what he is saying and realizes that especially legalization of marijuana makes good sense. As it stands the GOP have reefer madness and are the ones behind the Schedule I status of marijuana. They should be voted out of office as they refuse to do what the majority of americans want and that is marijuana sold like beer. We can only hope it changes soon and not in ten years.

  7. NattyRem420 on

    Treat the Junky’s in a clinical hospital with clean safe product and equipment ( I think they call em Riggs). but the Pothead need not fixin.

  8. I want to shake this mans hands. I want to shake any judges who understands the prohibition is not working. And our country would be better served by taking the black market out of it. I am not a fan of meth,cocaine, heroin, ect. But I also be leave that a controlled process for making theses things would be better for all than street junk made with what ever Street crap is available, how often does cocain or meth and heroin get cut every time it get sold to the next person.? Pharmaceutical grade should be better for all.

  9. Judge Posner is not the only one. Judge James Gray has written extensively about the failed war on drugs and also believes cannabis should be legalized. then there is LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, with a multitude of judges, police officers and former police officers in favor of ending cannabis prohibition. clearly the tide has turned and voices of reason are speaking out against the drug war, a war being waged against the citizens of the US purely for political and moral motives having nothing to do with public safety. prohibition never works.

    “A Society that will trade a liberty for a little order will lose both and deserve neither.” Thomas Jefferson

    Liberty presumes an autonomy of self. – Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy 2003

  10. ” The revenue from a sales tax on marijuana alone would pay for a substantial chunk of the cost of our prison system.” Of course I’ve said years ago, decades and decades ago, that had marijuana been already legal, this nation may not have been hit so badly due to the Wall Street and banking idiots. However, my main concern now that the Big Boys have discovered gold in them thar hills, that marijuana will go the route of baseball cards, it will be manipulated to a point where the entire operation is taken out of the hands of the ‘people’ who have brought both the strains and the status into the 21st century almost single-handedly, all the while doing it undergound. We’ve seen so many things ruined for people by The Big Boys. Remember when recycling put money in the hands of it’s citizens? Now, it’s only profitable to the garbage collectors. All of Big Money and finance is in the trees like crows and vultures, just waiting to swoop down as soon as it becomes legal in all the USA, and fight between themselves for profit, not caring about medical cannabis users. That’s my biggest fear.

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